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The law of homicide is examined to exemplify the problem of grading offenses for purposes of imposing punishment, sometimes the ultimate penalty of death for certain homicides. The crime of rape is investigated for essentially two reasons:
- to illustrate the role historical social stereotypes (in this case, sexual ones) play in the law and to examine the problems created in redefining legal doctrine when those stereotypes are seriously challenged; and
- as a vehicle for examining special actus reus and mens rea issues arising through the presence of the factor of consent in the law of rape.
The book concludes with a look at accomplice liability and an examination of theories of defense. The defense doctrines present a final opportunity to consider the actus reus and mens rea principles as they relate to the issue of appropriate employment of the punitive sanction.
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